Groups Tap Tech as State Voter Registration Deadlines Pass

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, voters cast their ballots for Illinois' primary at an early voting polling location in Chicago. Illinois Republicans are mounting what they say is an unprecedented and costly campaign to identify and eliminate ineligible voters and recruit their own election judges before the November vote. With their sights on unseating a Democratic governor and winning back several congressional seats, Republicans have allocated $1 million in Cook County alone to examine voter rolls and recruit 5,000 GOP election judges to watch over polling places in Democrat-heavy Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green,File)M. Spencer Green / AP

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Voter advocacy groups are turning to technology as they confront encroaching state voter registration deadlines.

Tuesday is the registration deadline for Illinois and New Mexico

Only nine states and the District of Columbia allow in-person Election Day voter registration on Nov. 4. Some states have online or register by mail deadlines in addition to in-person deadlines, which voter advocates and civil rights groups have listed online.

“Our goal is to make sure at least 7.8 million Latinos vote come November and we want to make sure every single one of those voters has the information necessary to make sure they can vote and know their rights,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which works to expand Latino civic engagement.

The general election is seen as a test of the effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling that gutted Section 5 Voting Rights Act protections and of voter ID laws that have been implemented by states.

Additionally, Vargas said he sees November’s midterms, when members of Congress, some U.S. senators and many local and state offices are on the ballot, as a warmup for 2016’s presidential contest.

Vargas said lack of reliable and accessible information is one of the reasons Latinos have lower turnout than other racial and ethnic groups _ 32 percent of eligible Latino voters turned out in the 2010 midterms, although the 6.6 million Latino voters was a record turnout for a midterm election.

In response, the group has started a hotline, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) and a website to provide information to Latino voters in English and Spanish. The information rages from how to register to where to report problems at the voting booth, Vargas said.

The groups also have created downloadable apps in English and Spanish (ve y vota) in iTunes or GooglePlay with similar information.

Texas, where one of every four Latino voters in the country is located, is the state causing the most concern because of its history of discrimination against Latino voters and ongoing efforts to push forward a very strict set of Voter ID laws and restrictions, Vargas said.

“We are very concerned about the impact some of these voter ID laws may have in discouraging Latinos from voting and they believe they will be questioned unnecessarily when they vote,” Vargas said.